Item description for Men of Bronze by Scott Oden...
It is 526 B.C. and the empire of the Pharaohs is dying, crushed by the weight of its own antiquity. Decay riddles its cities, infects its aristocracy, and weakens its armies. While across the expanse of Sinai, like jackals drawn to carrion, the forces of the King of Persia watch and wait. Leading the fight to preserve the soul of Egypt is Hasdrabal Barca, Pharaoh's deadliest killer. Possessed of a rage few men can fathom and fewer can withstand, Barca struggles each day to preserve the last sliver of his humanity. But, when one of Egypt's most celebrated generals, a Greek mercenary called Phanes, defects to the Persians, it triggers a savage war that will tax Barca's skills, and his humanity, to the limit. From the political wasteland of Palestine, to the searing deserts east of the Nile, to the streets of ancient Memphis, Barca and Phanes play a desperate game of cat-and-mouse --- a game culminating in the bloodiest battle of Egypt's history. Caught in the midst of this violence is Jauharah, a slave in the House of Life. She is Arabian, dark-haired and proud --- a healer with gifts her blood, her station, and her gender overshadow. Though her hands tend to Barca's countless wounds, it is her spirit that heals and changes him. Once a fearsome demigod of war, Hasdrabal Barca becomes human again. A man now motivated as much by love as anger. Nevertheless honor and duty have bound Barca to the fate of Egypt. A final conflict remains, a reckoning set to unfold in the dusty hills east of Pelusium. There, over the dead of two nations, Hasdrabal Barca will face the same choice as the heroes of old: Death and eternal fame or obscurity and long life.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.5" Width: 6.5" Height: 9.25" Weight: 1.8 lbs.
Release Date Jun 1, 2005
Publisher Medallion Press
ISBN 193281518X ISBN13 9781932815184
Availability 0 units.
More About Scott Oden
<div><b>Scott Oden</b> has worked the usual variety of odd jobs: delivering pizza, driving a truck for a printing company, and clerking at a video store, just to name a few. Now a full-time writer, Oden lives in rural North Alabama, near Huntsville. </div>
Reviews - What do customers think about Men of Bronze?
An invincible badass becomes a man, and an immortal empire becomes a satrapy Feb 2, 2008
The setting for "Men of Bronze" is one I'm unfamiliar with, so I can't vouch for its authenticity.
However, the story is a highly intriguing one, unfolding in two parts... the first part being the betrayal of Phanes of Halicarnassus, leader of the Greek garrison of Memphis, planning to turn over the city to the Persians, and assist in undermining the Pharaoh. This ultimately fails as one of the Medjay (the mercenaries fighting for the Pharaoh) alerts the Pharaoh and he amasses an army to deal with them. They succeed, and the second part has Persia taking the direct approach, and invading Egypt with an army.
Any follower of even the most basic history will know that Persia succeeds, as Persia acquires Egypt, becoming an essential part of the Empire.
Some of the characters are underdeveloped, but for me the most interesting and best fleshed-out would be Phanes of Halicarnassus. He starts as an arrogant man, hateful towards the Egyptians, and seeking to undermine them at every attempt, even seducing their noble maidens. As the story progresses, he becomes more power hungry, little by little, and devolves into utter madness by the end.
Then comes the main character, the Phoenician Medjay leader Hasdrabal Barca...
From the beginning, I absolutely despised the character. There was virtually nothing likeable in him, as he was ever the embodiment of the cliche' loner badass who goes into battle first, kills dozens, and doesn't ever get much more than a scratch on himself. For solidly 2/3rds of the book, he plays this stupid role, using the typical loner badass history of "my wife cheated on me, so I killed her and her lover when I walked in on them" and utilizing his rage, called his "Beast" to make him an invincible fighter, and to hell with others of great fighting skill or experience or numbers.
Then gradually the Arabian slave girl Jauhara stirs in Barca his humanity, and suddenly the easily despisable cliche' known as Hasdrabal Barca becomes a man, with emotions, fear, rage, love, hate, and mercy.
Other compelling characters include Urahorresjet, the father of Barca's murdered wife, and Callisthenes, the fat Greek trader who becomes an honorable soldier fighting for Egypt.
The action scenes are no Pressfield, but they come close, and the story, sluggish at first, quickly becomes compelling and a fast, lush read.
Action in an Ancient, Savage Age Nov 29, 2007
"Men of Bronze" is a story of betrayal, vengeance and finally love and redemption set during the fall of Egypt.
One reviewer used the description of the writing as "Comic Book-like"; in the sense that the characters were larger than life, I would have to agree. But the story of Barca the Phoenician (Scott Oden's anti-hero/hero) is an archetypal story. Oden uses the metaphor of the "Beast" to describe the katoleptic, killing rage that Barca uses to defeat his enemies. There is no other way to write a piece like this without making it somewhat larger than life. Most people have experienced and been shocked by their own "beast" within and readers can relate to the feelings that well up from some seemingly otherworldy source during times of extreme stress(hopefully we don't hack people to pieces with a bronze scimitar...but you get my meaning).
The message that we can change; that our lives are not out of control is an imporant one for our times. Barca has been damaged by love betrayed and paradoxically saved by love as well. Although this is an extremely violent book that pulls no punches in its descriptions of personal combat and brutal battles, ultimately the story is about the peace that can be found within.
I loved this book and will be sure to read Memnon by Scott Oden. Hopefully this writer will continue to turn out exciting historical fiction for many more years.
Blazing Egyptian Historical Adventure Aug 29, 2007
This sensational action tale of the Persian conquest of Egypt, told from the viewpoint of a Phoenician mercenary serving Pharoh, is a most welcome adjunct to the established Greek historicasls of Steven Pressfield and the late Mary Renault. The characters are vividly portrayed, and the near continuous combat scenes are grasphic and realistic, with virtually palpable blood lust full of the taste and smell of deadly hand to hand combat. An effort was made to convey the flavors of the times and the strengths and weaknesses of each of the protagonists, especially the near Homeric hero Hasdrabal Barca. His Arabian slave girl companion is a bit too virtuous to believe, but the wily and venal priests of Egypt are right on. Well deserving of entry to the Lord Osiris" Garden of Amentis - the Egyptian Walhalla.
What an absolutely silly book Apr 22, 2007
Mind you, silly books have a place in the world. Sometimes its nice to relax your mind and get lost in a totally improbable story. Sadly, this book isn't even enjoyably silly. The characters are banal and easily predictable. The battle scenes aren't that exciting and can easily be skimmed over. What really got on my nerves was the author's tendency to get overly descriptive over every little thing. Scott Oden needs to learn that it's okay to say the sky was blue and leave it at that.
Lots of Battle Scenes, set in ancient Egypt as it began to Fall Apr 15, 2007
All great cultures eventually fail: Egypt, some historians say, was around as a great unified culture, religion,& united people, by far the longest: over 4000 years. Eventually it too had to end & by then the top was rotten; there was a lack of what would be called patriotism or love of the nation; at all levels of the nation were non-Egyptians, not that thats bad in itself but many immigrants had brought in other religions which had watered down the traditional religions---you don't have to be religious yourself to see that this weakened a nation where only 2% of the people were literate. There was corruption; they had lost most of their empire; the pharaohs were less considered to be god-kings than before, again, that may seem a good or forward-looking move to us, but it wasn't as far as keeping together a society that for nearly 5 millenia had believed the king was a god and spoke to the gods for the people. At any rate, everything had changed, and Egypt was a rotten fruit, and all the surrounding Empires were waiting to conqueror it.
Of course, quite soon Alexander the Great would conquer it for good and put his relatives on the throne--- his relatives' descendent who was there when the Romans came to conquer it again a few hundered years later, was a woman named Cleopatra--- not an Egyptian at all but the descendent of a Macedonian general and kin of Alexander!
Anyway, this book is interesting, I do read a lot, both fiction and non fiction, about ancient Egypt and this is the first I've read where Egypt is at this point of total decay and there are hardly any Egyptians in the main story line, there are Greeks, Phoenicians, Libyans, Jews, Arabs, and others, all peoples who have moved into Egypt for a better life over the past generations and thrived there. So, that was new and different as a book for me.
Some reviewers didn't like the main character Barka, I think as a great warrior he was believable enough. He managed to survive great battles but as he is described as a battle hardened veteren, this would mean, to me, the more he survived, the more chance he has to keep on surviving. At that time, the skills to win in war were ones where a man who was gifted by nature with certain genetic abilities, like an athlete, would be able to have a great head start surviving over others, as long as simple bad luck, like an infected wound, didn't kill him.
An interesting read, and one more thing, about the Medjay----I don't know about the Medjay at the time the book is set at: but originally they were a Nubian (African) tribe that had fought as warriors and allies of the last descendents of the pharaohs and helped them regain their throne and free Egypt in the years when the Hyksos tribes had conquered Egypt, hundreds of years earlier. (about 2135BC) That alliance can be read about in Pauline Gedge's excellent historical fiction trilogy: "The Lord of the two Lands". Eventually the Medjay, by then completely assimilated into Egyptian culture and religion, became the hereditary policemen of Egypt, many fiction and non fiction books mention them in this regard, Lauren Haney has a good series of detective/mystery books where the Medjay who guard the frontier in Queen Hatshepsut's time are the main characters, under their leader LT Bak. In the triogy about Pharaoh Akenaten and King Tutankhamun by Paul C. Doherty, "The Evil Spirit out of the West/ The Season of the Hyeanas/ The Year of the Cobra" the Medjays are also referred to in their role as police. A recent book by Nick Drake, "Nefertiti: the Book of the Dead", a mystery, has a Medjay detective as its lead character. So, my question is: by this late date in Egypt, 535 BC, were the Medjay made up of just anyone who wanted to join? Because my understanding is that for much of their existance they were a tribe/ ethnic group as well as the word for policeman or a type of warrior tribe. Or did the author not do research on this? Anyone know?